Friday, October 19, 2007

Watched a terrific documentary called Rock School. It is the story of Paul Green's School of Rock in Philadelphia. He runs it as an after-school program for kids who want to learn rock music. Although he welcomes kids of all music levels, he places very high expectations and demands on them. I was frankly astonished at the level of music done by his top level band. He decided his top kids should just work on Frank Zappa tunes. Not the easier Zappa songs, the harder ones. For those who don't know, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention had a reputation for performing some of the most difficult and complex songs of any rock bands.

At the end of the film the top level band made a trip to Germany to play at a Zappa festival. Mr Green spoke on the phone to Napoleon Brock-Murphy, one of the original Mothers of Invention, to ask him to talk with the kids. Mr Murphy first expressed his astonishment at which songs this band was going to play, then agreed to do a song with them on stage. He and another former Zappa band member both expressed their highest admiration for these kids after the show.

The school is now franchised in several cities. As you might suspect, there are a number of YouTube videos. Here's one I found with Jon Anderson of Yes as a guest of the band doing Long Distance Runaround. Mr Green is the man who comes up to direct towards the end. There's another video with Close to the Edge, but I thought that wouldn't be as familiar to some of you. If you want to see more, you can either poke around YouTube yourself (edit:search for SOR school of rock), or go to the School of Rock site here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My favorite song of the moment. If you recognize it, then you'll know what movie we watched last night.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

For my 1000th post, I'll just draw your attention to an interesting evangelistic strategy from our Ukrainian brothers: evangelism through celebrating the Christian holidays. (link will only be good until they update their news section)

We will be going to serve International Partnerships in two weeks, though in the city of L'viv rather than Dnepropetrovsk. IP is an indigenous Ukrainian ministry which evolved out of the efforts of Co-Mission back in the early 90's. Co-Mission was a cooperative effort to spread the gospel in Ukraine and Russia following the fall of the Soviet government. The post-Soviet governments asked westerners to come in and teach American values in the public schools, so a number of mission boards got together and divvied up territories to work on. Our good friend John Hamilton was involved in this work through the Navigators and helped identify a young couple who went on to found International Partnerships.

I am thrilled to be able to serve this organization again for a short English School project. I feel a little overwhelmed by the logistics and the various unknowns involved, but I'm sure God will help us where we are weak. Plus all we are really doing is drawing in people so that they can get into extended small groups and classes with the Ukrainian staff there. If we screw up a little it won't matter too much :)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Enjoy your labor day rest:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In case you haven't heard, our country is in dire need of maps.
What can you paint in 5 minutes?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A little window into life in Kiev for an American foreign service officer. I found it amusing. His whole blog is fun reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Just a reminder to pray for some of those whose faith is being sorely tested. I received word about more kidnappings than are being reported so far in the news, but I think it wiser to not say any more than that.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

File this under Jobs I Won't Be Applying For.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This might be fun if you had, say, an hour or two left to live.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Someday I'd like to be as rich as my spam says I am.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interesting article here on protectionism. Something to think about. I think it is worthwhile to consider how local economies might benefit from such policies. So many countries these days struggle with unemployment due to not having infrastructure and trained labor to compete globally. A trade of inefficient production for increased (and more varied) employment might very well be a good idea. In any event, probably the US and other big players probably should not be bullying against some of the milder tarrifs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On the other hand, this strikes me as simply brilliant.
Nothing really sums up contemporary western liberalism quite as well as this little story.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Maybe one of you medieval philosophy junkies can tell me if Aquinas or someone already devised this chart.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Also, this is ancient by internet standards (three weeks old!), but I found this to be a very interesting take on evangelicalism.
Required reading for all journalists and anyone else who writes or speaks where I can hear them.
I thought this was a good post on Jesus and "family values".

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I believe today marks the first day that I have seen the dead body of someone I have known who is my own age. Brad Friesen is someone I have known ever since I moved to North Carolina eleven years ago. He and his wife Tiffany have been very active and faithful members of Church of the Good Shepherd since before I arrived.

About five years ago Brad was diagnosed with brain cancer. We are a very well connected church, medically speaking, and Brad was able to meet with some top neurosurgeons who performed surgery pretty quickly and followed with whatever they felt was the appropriate treatment. Brad and I were not especially close, simply due to not being involved in the same activities, but we all were told that Brad's surgery and treatment had gone quite well. Unfortunately his cancer returned this year and in the past month spread very quickly through his brain. His wife and friends reported that he was quite lucid (and sarcastic) right up to the last few days.

We received the news of the return of Brad's cancer about a month ago, along with a prognosis that he probably had a few months to live. Brad died early on Thursday. One friend I spoke to commented that Brad really was fortunate to have had as much success as he did following the first surgery, since most with his form of cancer die pretty quickly. Brad's wife expressed her amazement to me that Brad had retained so much function and personality through his cancer growth.

Thank the Lord with me for Brad's life and witness. Pray for strength and grace for his surviving wife and three little girls. I know many will tell them about what a terrific man their father had been and that they will see him again at the resurrection of the dead.

Friday, May 11, 2007

38 today. In honor of (and anticipating a bit) my birthday, Joel Garver is now blogging again.

(If he's not "gone Garver" now, what is he???)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Just try to convince me there's something better to watch than game show clips from the 70's:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One of my ESL students asked me last week, "what is meant by the term 'The American People?'"
He pointed out, rightly, that America is composed of people from all over the world. I told him the term didn't really mean anything other than people who live in America. My wife suggested (later) that it often refers to voters. It is certainly a more problematic term than similar terms referring to more homogenous populations such as "Japanese people." I am told that an american living in Japan will never, under any circumstances, be thought of as Japanese. I suppose they think of it as a racial/genetic sort of category.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Real Estate story of the day, since my wife likes old houses.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Decided it was about time for a facelift. I may even add some updated links at some point.

I made some small edit last week which killed my comments, and this was the easiest way to get them back :) I guess old comments are a bit lost now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My money's on Flatow. (Be sure to click the dot at the end)

Monday, April 23, 2007


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Benny Hinn: Martial Artist or Metalhead? You be the judge.

Thanks, Al!!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

To amuse yourself:

Go to google maps.
Enter New York City to London.
Enjoy trying to follow direction number 23 :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I can't imagine it will be long before the government puts a stop to this sort of outrageous behavior. Everyone ELSE has to pay for a ticket. Who does he think he is?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

When working late in a rural area, always make sure to keep the police scanner on. At least to amuse those who read your blog.
Some good productivity enhancers for those of you good at spatial imagination. Not so fun if you aren't good at that. (BTW, getting a yellow dot means you did it "right.")

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This is fascinating for those up on contemporary Jesus studies.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sorry about the month long absence. Been fairly busy between work and kids and stuff.

Anyhow, fascinating interview today on WUNC radio with a Durham resident I'd not heard of before. Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove is part of something dubbed "neo-monasticism" right here in central NC. Both his background and his current understanding of applied theology were startlingly close to my own. Not that I think those two things together are terribly unusual, I just didn't expect to hear someone like that on public radio. Missions, conversion, community, Bonhoeffer, and individualism all get significant treatment. Please give it a listen if you can spare 50 or so minutes this week.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My guest post on Alastair's blog is up now. Feel free to read and write over there as you choose.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed last night. I know, I'm like the 75 millionth person to read it. Just hold on a sec. Kust wanted to mention one particular point of interest. In one portion of her project Ms Ehrenreich was working with a maid service cleaning houses. She found herself learning to resent the home owners she was working for. This isn't terribly surprising, nor do I blame her at all for that. Here's the interesting bit--just as she was getting ready to quit and move on to her next city, she told her coworkers that she was really only there to research her book. In the ensuing discussion Ms E asked about her coworkers attitudes towards the wealthy homeowners. She was surprised to find that none of them felt any resentment or hostility towards them. The said that they were hoping to someday be in such a position themselves.

Leaving aside the likelihood, or lack thereof, of middle aged house cleaners to attain the resources to someday hire out there own help, I think there is another interesting thing at work here. In his seminal work Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, Helmut Schoeck points out that envy is much more likely to occur between near equals. Ms. Ehrenreich several times made mention of the fact that she was "only visiting" the world of the working poor, that she always knew she had her other, upper-middle class life to go back to. I would suggest that her problem with her clients probably stemmed from the fact that although she was not one to use a maid service, she was of the class of people who COULD do so. Probably some of her friends and neighbors used such services.

A twelve-year-old boy on the outdoor basketball court does not envy the success of the NBA star. The recent college star who failed to make a pro team might. That's not a comment on Ms Ehrenreich's character, just one on human nature.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's really not worth noting the controversy which led up to this, but Peter Leithart's post here on vulgar language exactly echoes my own sentiments. As a baptist youngster I certainly bought into the idea of prohibited words, but through college and beyond I began to reason out many of these same ideas Peter mentions. I think there must be some sort of Aristotelian mean here. One should not be the sort of person who is known for telling dirty jokes, but one should not be a prude either.

Working with high school students over the last few years has made me both more sensitive to this question and more convinced of the general position. Also, being pastored by David Bowen, one who is not the least afraid to either mention a vulgar word in a sermon or to preach on sexual passages in the scriptures, has been helpful. I can't say often enough that I have the best pastor in the world :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Worth reading: Po Bronson on recent research on the effects of praise on children. We had discussed this in a general way in my ESL teaching program, but I was unaware of this research.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For your edification, here are the 10 worst drivers ever caught on video. Don't laugh, it could be you next.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I wonder how many profs from the conservative presbyterian seminaries will be attending this? I don't mean that as accusatory, since I don't know ANY profs at these seminaries myself except through casual introduction or by reputation. It frankly looks like it would be a good conference for anyone seriously interested in reformation history.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I think Todd's post here is appropriate to any and all theological discussions going on.
BBC readio last night was discussing recent legislative changes (or proposed changes?) allowing for much larger casinos. The interesting bit was their guest interview with someone from a recent american national impact study group on gambling. I had no idea that such a study had been conducted, though I had heard about recent crackdowns on online gambling. Anyhow, this study group was recommending a moratorium on all new forms of legal gambling in the US. The BBC reporter asked whether allowing large casinos did not bring jobs and revenue into communities. The american rightly and eloquently pointed out that casinos do not create wealth, they merely transfer it to casino owners. They also have the effect of taking money which would have been spent on consumer goods of various kinds OUT of the local economy, which has a multiplier effect (you might want to take a macro-econ class if you aren't familiar with this). So, for every million dollars spent in a casino, that could be 3 or 4 or more million which is taken out of the local economy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Overheard at lunch as two college age females walked by my table: ". . .so that's when I broke up with him even though TECHNICALLY at that time I didn't HAVE a reason . . ."

I can't help thinking that he might be better off now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I was just thinking that an interesting use of identity theft would be to just be cruel to someone rather than trying to profit. If you had someone's credit card info and address, you could simply buy lots of things online and have it all sent to them. They would have a hard time both in getting it all returned as well as trying to convince merchants that someone else was responsible.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What better way to return to blogging than to point out this post on the menace known as scented candles?